Austin Howard jumps into starting role in long-awaited first Ravens practice

BALTIMORE -- Austin Howard waited eight days after signing with the Baltimore Ravens to participate in his first practice with the team.

The Ravens didn't waste any time getting him into the first-team offense.

Howard lined up at right tackle with the starters in Saturday's practice after being cleared by trainers. It's been an unusual delay for Howard, who signed a three-year, $15 million contract Aug. 4 after being released by the Oakland Raiders.

"I’ve been itching to get back out here," Howard said. "It was a great day today, a great day to get back out there and be with the team and just step on the field. So it was a good day. Anybody is going to have a little rust. It's just working through that and getting to know this offense and getting to know this team and getting to know the group I'll be with."

Howard's arrival was timely. Baltimore has lost three offensive linemen -- Alex Lewis (shoulder) and Nico Siragusa (knee) were injured and John Urschel retired -- since the start of training camp.

After Lewis was ruled out for the season Friday, James Hurst went from right tackle to Lewis' spot at left guard. That allowed Howard to take to his accustomed position at right tackle.

It's not the first time Howard, 30, has been in a Ravens uniform. He was on the team's practice squad in 2011.

For those who don't remember Howard, it wasn't difficult to spot him. At 6-foot-7, 330 pounds, he's the tallest Ravens player along with defensive end Brent Urban.

"He looks really big, did you notice that?" coach John Harbaugh said. "It is good to have him here. We are happy. He is excited; he really wanted to practice. He has been wanting to practice. I think he was excited to get out here and practice."